As soon as I told Sebastian about Mike, he went very, very quiet. And I could sense how angry he was. But then he seemed to shelve it, and we got on with the weekend which consisted mostly of making passionate love, eating and talking. I’ve never been so open with anyone and I will certainly never lie to him again. I’ve well and truly given my heart to him and I know that there is no going back now.
Sebastian follows me into the office and I go straight to Adrian’s door. I raise my hand to knock, but Sebastian simply opens it and walks in. Shrugging, I follow. Adrian looks up in annoyance, then goes pale as he sees who it is. He looks from me to Sebastian and back to me again, confusion in his eyes.
“Can I help you?” he says to Sebastian, in an overly nice tone. I can hear the fear underneath.
“Yeah, you can. You can tell me what possessed you to waste the talents of Rose here by sending her to spy on me to dig up gossip that doesn’t exist. Are you really so desperate for readers?”
Adrian goes from pale to purple. “Whatever she’s been telling you-” he begins, jerking his head in my direction. But Sebastian cuts him off, his voice quiet but with an unmistakable ring of danger in his tone.
“She? You mean, Rose?”
“Yes, Rose,” Adrian says impatiently. “She’s a total wild card. I can assure you, whatever she’s been doing it hasn’t been with my approval.”
“You liar!” I yell, shaking with anger at the sheer cheek of the man. Not to mention his hypocrisy and cowardice. How could I ever have aspired to work under him? He is everything that Sebastian detests in journalists and I can see how he gives the profession a bad name.
I spin to face Sebastian, ready to protest my case, but I need not have worried. He raises a sardonic eyebrow at Adrian, clearly not believing a word he says.
“Really, Adrian? You think that’s an adequate defense? You would have to be spectacularly incompetent as an editor if that were the case.”
Adrian opens his mouth and closes it again like a fish out of water and indeed, I think he’s realizing just how out of his depth he is here. He changes tactic, spreading his hands on his desk in a placating gesture.
“Mr. Adams, forgive me if you feel there has been any improper conduct here. But going undercover is a typical reporting tactic, and we wanted only to serve our readers by giving them a look into the world of their favorite billionaire CEO. You must understand how interested people are in you. This was a human interest story. It could have done great things for your profile.”
Adrian gives Sebastian a smarmy, if slightly shaky, grin, carefully avoiding looking at me as he feeds his lies. Sebastian just laughs, though there is absolutely no humor in his voice, and I see the hope fade from Adrian’s eyes. He knows he’s not going to get away with this.
I’m not expecting Sebastian’s next words however.
“Thank you for your concern about my ‘profile.’ It’s really very touching.” His voice drips sarcasm. “I’ve just taken my own steps to raise my profile…my business profile, that is. I’ve just bought the Witness and my first actions as the new director is to fire the editor…that’s you, Adrian. You have approximately ten minutes to clear your desk.”
“You can’t do that!” Adrian exclaims.
“I just did,” Sebastian replies calmly, checking his watch. “You now have nine minutes.”
“B-But…you can’t just fire me. I’ll sue you.”
Sebastian places his hands flat on the desk and leans forward over Adrian before saying in a reasonable voice, “Then I will make sure that Rose takes you to court for workplace harassment and bullying. And I will make sure she wins. I can afford a very good legal team. If I were you, I would keep my reputation – what I have – intact and run along quietly.”
Adrian goes bright red and swallows visibly, his mouth set in a tight line. He is practically bursting at the seams with indignation, and I could almost feel sorry for him if he wasn’t such a jerk. Almost.
“Fine,” he spits out, defeated. Sebastian nods pleasantly, holds his hand out to me, and we leave. When we emerge out onto the street, I burst into exhilarated laughter as it occurs to me that I’m finally free of my demanding boss.
“Do you have an idea who you will replace him with?” I ask, my head whirring with possibilities of what the Witness could become. Sebastian nods and looks at me intently.
“You. Who else?”
“What!” He’s joking, surely? But his expression shows me that he is completely serious. I carry on walking, shocked, and we walk the next few blocks in silence.